The Priestly Heart of a Man Who Wasn't a Priest.
The Ninth Friday of Ordinary Time; or, the Memorial of Saint Ephrem, Deacon & Doctor of the Church.
Lessons from the primary feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Tobit 11: 5-17.
• Psalm 146: 1-2, 6-10.
• Mark 12: 35-37.
When the memorial is taken, lessons from the feria as above, or from the proper:
• Colossians 3: 12-17.
• Psalm 37: 3-6, 30-31.
• Luke 6: 43-45.
…or, any lessons from the common of Doctors of the Church.
Ember Friday of Pentecost.*
Lessons from the Octave, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Joel 2: 23-24, 26-27.
• [The Gradual is omitted.]
• [Sequence] Veni, Sancte Spiritus…**
• Luke 5: 17-26.
Pentecost Friday; the Feast of Our Holy Father Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria; and, the Feast of the Holy Apostles Bartholomew & Barnabas.***
First & third lessons from the menaion for the Apostles, second & fourth from the pentecostarion, according to the Ruthenian recension of the Byzantine Rite:
• Acts 11: 19-26, 29-30.
• Romans 2: 14-29.
• Luke 10: 16-21.
• Matthew 5: 33-41.
9:29 AM 6/9/2017 — Today we celebrate the memorial of a saint that you've probably never thought about: Saint Ephrem the Syrian. He was not a priest, but it's precisely because he was not a priest that his life causes us to think of the priesthood.
He was a full-blooded Syrian who grew up in Mesopotamia in the Fourth Century. As a young man he was a gifted student, and became so respected for both his learning and his holiness that he was made Master of the school in the city of Nisibis. It was during this time that the Church fell prey to many vociferous heresies regarding the nature of Christ and, particularly, the Virgin Mother of God. He became so skillful at combating and arguing against these heresies that the bishop of Edessa, a city in what is now Turkey, made him a deacon with authority to preach. He was also a gifted musician and wrote many beautiful hymns, his most famous ones being about the Blessed Virgin Mary. In fact, some historians claim that it was Saint Ephrem who actually introduced the custom of singing hymns in church and, in the Byzantine Tradition in which I used to serve, many of his hymns are still sung. His teachings were considered so important to the survival of the Church that Pope Benedict the XV, the pope after whom our Pope Emeritus took his name, declared him a Doctor of the Church, a title reserved only for those few saints whose teachings are considered so important that the Church would not have been the same without them.
Saint Ephrem causes us to think of the Holy Priesthood because, when the Bishop of Edessa made him a deacon, he tried to make him a priest as well, but Ephrem refused. In his humility, he could not conceive of himself ever being worthy enough to receive such a great grace.
Which means that he probably would have made an excellent priest. And if your experience is at all like mine, you've known a few priests whom you wish had had that kind of humility. I'm sure some of my former parishioners have thought that about me from time to time.
As we celebrate his memorial today, I ask you again to beg our Blessed Mother to watch over her Son's priests, keep them faithful, support them in their sufferings, and keep them ever faithful to their calling with the kind of humility that Saint Ephrem so perfectly displayed.
* Cf. the second footnote attached to the post here for an explanation of the Ember Days.
** Cf. the footnote attached to the post here for a translaton of the sequence.
*** The feast of the Apostles Barnabas and Bartholomew is transfered to today from All Saints Sunday. In the Roman Rite, Barnabas is observed on June 11th.